Ovesize mat

Melinda Tennis

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Jul 10, 2002
Lynchburg, VA.
Hey ya'll. Any of you have suggestions, helpful hints about how to cut a 67" mat with a 60" C&H mat cutter? I plan to remove the knobs and have underlayment under the whole length, so the end of the base doesn't crease the front of the mat. Any other words of wisdom will be appreciated. Thanks. Melinda
Let's see
Cut a 67" mat with a 60" C&H.
I have one, will you let me know how you do that.
It can be done if you turn the mat so the fallout is to the left of the bar and the face of the mat is up (as long as the width of the resulting mat isn't so great that the hinges of the cutter become an issue).
You might need to remove some of the hardware from the surface of the cutting board (squaring arm etc). Using this method you can cut successive segments of the mat by stopping the cut, moving the mat up in the cutter then resuming the cut.
Another option is to remove the bar from the cutter and clamp it in place on the oversize mat using deep engagement clamps.

If you decide to try the Dexter cutter, try to get some experience on both the regular and the mini model. I prefer the mini for this application as I feel I can control the point of entry and exit better.
I have done it on a C&H ... no problem. What you need to do is this:

Say you want a 4" border on the mat. Cut a piece of foam core to that width and about 40" long. Then set the guide to zero... against the rail the cutter head rides on. THEN... set the piece of foam core you cut to 4" against the guide as if it were a piece of mat board. This then gives you a guide as to where you need to atg another piece of foam core ( even better is a piece of 1/2" fome core if you have it) to your table. It should be on the opposite side of the cutter bar away from you. You now have a stop set at 4" for the piece of mat board to set against. The mat board is placed under the cutter bar as if you were going to cut a reverse bevel, that is, it is sticking out at you instead of away from you. Of course, you remove the stop guide from the machine before beginning to cut the mat.
You will actually be cutting on the front of the mat. Place a couple inch piece of removable 3M tape where the corners of the cut will be so you can put your marks on the tape instead of the mat.
You need another person to help you with this job. As that person holds the mat up making sure it is against the stop, you will cut in from one side and then move the mat board over so the rest of it is under the cutter bar then come around to the other side of the table and finish the cut.
Before you move the mat you need to tape the cut back together with blue painters tape as it will hold the piece in place but is easily removable with a slow pull away from the mat so it has no chance of fraying the mat cut.

Now turn the mat to the next side and repeat and so on till done. Lay the whole thing on a table and slowly remove the painters tape and with a burnishing bone, burnish the edge of the cut down so no areas might have been raised by the tape will remain.

I have cut quite a few 50x72 mats this way and it works.

This method works well on a C&H but is harder on a Fletcher as there are pieces of hardware on the machine that gets in the way of placing the mat flat.

Forget about using a Dexter cutter for ANYTHING you do in a proessional shop. This piece of junk is meant for the do it at home artist who can't afford to get it done right!! It should have been outlawed from being in a professional framing shop. Seriously.. if that is what you are using in your shop, you need to rethink what you are giving your customers in regards to quality work.

So that is how to cut an oversize mat.
Thank you framah. That is exactly what I was hoping for in the tips department. I knew it could be done, with some difficulty, but there was no way in **** I was gonna' dig out my Dexter. I'll record it and send pictures. Thanks again. M.
Originally posted by framah:
Forget about using a Dexter cutter for ANYTHING you do in a proessional shop. This piece of junk is meant for the do it at home artist who can't afford to get it done right!! It should have been outlawed from being in a professional framing shop. Seriously.. if that is what you are using in your shop, you need to rethink what you are giving your customers in regards to quality work.
I don't know about you, Judy, but I think we've been insulted.

Framah...It's just a tool, and in the right hands a good tool. Sure, it's been misused, abused, and now thanks to youse, maligned. Lighten up.
Yeah... I guess you have. Yes, it's just a tool but a very poor one. When there are so many better tools out there why use junk? Being a framer for 5 years or 25 years doesn't make the tool any better. I had a Dexter eons ago and threw it out as soon as I had my first pro cutter which was an Esterly and that was before I opened the store.

Don't you know... with every good tip on how to do something, I also provide ...free of charge... one perfectly good insult. This way I keep the universe in balance.

... and Melinda always glad to help (as well as stir up the occasional hornets nest!)

In the end, it don't mean a hill of beans, anyhoo.
And before you had that "Professional" tool, AKA a Dexter, you were turning out highly professional mats with WHAT....

I don't know what kind of standards must be maintained in Maine, much less Ellsworth, but in the rest of the world, we "Pros" were cutting mats with utility knives before that wonderfull block of steel the Dexter came out.

I can't remember who was teaching the fancy cuts in 1973, but I took a coarse and that guy was cutting some amazing scroll work out of the face paper, then peeling the face for a white scroll work.

Then there was the Braman arch mat I just cut yesterday for a guy....

Now show me how you can cut any of that with an Easterly, a Westerly or a NorSoutherly.....

Whoops. Sorry, there was that thread on how to cut ovals with a strain-line mat cutter...

How stupid and un-professional of me framah.
With my Keeton Kutter I can remove the cutting bar from the base and use it to cut any length I want - just have to line up the cuts! This way I have my nice even bevel cutting Hendrixson Head - a nice straight bar - and voila!

Helps to have a really flat workbench, too!
Before I had my Dexter, I wasn't doing any framing. Way back when I had my Dexter, which was my first cutter tool, I was trying to cut square openings for my photos to sell at craft shows, not doing work for framing customers in a store.

Piece of junk it was and I bought the Esterly wall mounted cutter which allowed me to size the mat, glass and foam core. As to cutting ovals on an Esterly, they have an attachment that allows just that so that wouldn't be a problem.

I think it was Brian Wolf who could cut absolutely anything on a mat with just an exacto knife. This guy is truly a master at his craft!!

I have a friend in NJ whose father only cuts mats with his carving knife. He has a leather strop hanging on the bench to hone the edge before cutting and again is amazing with it. I have seen him cut a free form shape that way in one cut. He is in his upper 70s and he sees no reason to change now as he will be quitting in a year or two.
The old masters at this are fading away and the next generation is using CMCs.
No denegrating the old masters their ways such as yourself, Baer. I'm amazed at how you can cut a mat that way as I was never taught how. Do you still cut mats that way or do you use the latest equipment available to us?
The standards for cutting in Maine are as high as in other states where the proper tools are used.

I'm sure some can cut a good mat with a Dexter, but again my question is why would you want to futz with it when there are way better tools out there that will allow you to cut cleaner and quicker. It's all about trying to do the work with the least hassle to make money and time is money.

So, Baer... how DO you cut ovals with a strain-line cutter??
I have been fortunate enough to work for three different framers that have been in the business for over 20 years a piece. Now one was into the gadgets, one very old school, the other in the middle. I think I would be a dope without working for all three. If you only ever know one way, you will come to many road blocks. If you have been around three completely different shops then that will certainly have different methods. The computer guy can only cut so big, the old school can't expand too much (some older methods take more then 5 seconds to cut a mat), sometimes being in the middle allows for expansion and wisdom. It is a fine line, I have seen that little dexter do some amazing things, I actually bought one after working for my first employer. I hope to one day be as good as her. I also bought some other itmes that the other two shops had. I feel they all have different moethods and if I can be half as good as them, then hopefully I will be able to get passeed some of those roead blocks on my own.
Patrick Leeland
Add my vote to the pro-Dexter Mini camp. We have great success with it on the occasional jumbo mat. It does take two people to hold the straightedge in place (or you can use big spring clamps if you are working close to the edge of a suitable table). You just have to do this method for the long sides. If the short sides will fit in the straightline mat cutter, you can just finish the mat on that. Just be sure they are cutting at the same angle, or you'll have end bevels that appear to be a different thickness than the long ones.
:cool: Rick
The Logan 4000 is a handy solution to problems
like this. Interlam's Big Yellow Ruler is also
a life saver for things of this scale.

Framah, this was about 30 minutes to lay-out and cut with a utility knife, all four layers.

Top mat down: 8-ply, 1/4" Gator, 3/16 gator, 8-ply


There was a framer I ran into in Northern California who had a "Solar Powered" frame shop. The only thing electric was his phone and vacuum press.

He had a 78" mat cutter..... The "bar" was 1/2" thick 4" wide stainless. It was hinged at one end and a eye bolt for the lift on the other end which slightly over-hung the table with a strap going down to a peddle.
He would slid the mat under the bar and line it up on the right side. Then step on the peddle clamping the mat. Then with his DEXTER, would cut the mat.

For ovals he had a "Johnny zip-Zap" which is basically a toy that when you rotate the armature the two plates that the armiture is attatched to slide back and forth or up and down. He had figured out how to turn that into a oval marker.

Once he marked his oval, out came the utility knife; which was also solar powered. Sun out, light enough, cut mat. :D

Framah, as Patrick points out, there is a time and place for everything. Personally I never want to go back to drilling and nailing frames...

Sliding blind keys and oval pegs are much more Gothic.
Melinda, you can use a vertical cutter to cut that 67" mat.
Baer... All I can say is WOW!!!

:eek: :eek:

I was going to show you the one I did using a hacksaw blade nailed to a piece of 1x3... but, never mind!
No WAIT! I'd love to see what a hacksaw blade nailed to a 1x3 can do... :D

I have a japanese scribe cutter that can cut that mat up to 4" wide as long as you want....as long as you are going to wrap it with fabric...
I had been cutting mats for years with a utility knife. A customer gave me a Dexter mat cutter and taught me how to use it. Back then, it was like going from h ell to heaven, it was amazing. Much like when I got my first CMC. Sorry Framah, I can't agree with you on this one. In it's day, the Dexter was a great cutter. All that changed when I got a Keeton Cutter.

Keeton, now there was a great piece of equipment. I wanted to marry that first one.

Then remember when Cresent Card and Paper Co came out with those amazing PRE-colored mats? And in those FANCY names....LOL.... Lt Blue, Canary Yellow, Red, Lt Green, and my favorite Dark Green..... and a SOLID Black! :eek:

And I'm sure that if we went all the way back to Pop's in New York, he could tell you how amazing that knife with the changable blades were for cutting mats.... it made that old knife look down right crude. :D
Do you mean to tell me you cut all that out with a plain old utility knife? That's impressive for sure. You are a very talented man, no question.
Baer... was that DIANE KEETON???

Yeah, me too!!
framah, there are certain things that are NEVER done on the grumble.... naming "She-who-shall-not-be-named" is one of the biggies...

Rock, once you get a few dozen under your belt there is nothing to it.... just use a straight straightedge.

Now framah mentioned a hacksaw blade nailed to a 1x3.... which of course got me thinking in the middle of the night..."why does that sound so familiar?"......

Because, he in her own female intuition was thinking about my "Other" seldom used mat cutter... [cuz its a bit@h to sharpen].

The blade is harder than a hacksaw blade Rockwell 62.

That little dark hummer sticking out can take your finger from servicable to the hospital in a heartbeat. Mats take a heartbeat longer.

set for the 5 1/4" mat on this.

I always liked Peg Hopper's work. I have one at home with koa wood around it.
Originally posted by framah:
Being a framer for 5 years or 25 years doesn't make the tool any better.
THat may be true, but I think whether your Dexter is 5 or 25 years old makes a difference. The first one I had was a hand-me-down from my first framing boss given to me during Reagan's first term. It was heavy and solid and liked to make long straight cuts. The only time that one ever made me curse was when I lost it in a move. It's replacement paled in comparison. It looked similar but somehow was different. Lighter, not quite as comfortable in my hand.

This phenomenon is not limited to framing equipment. Have you ever moved a desk and found an old paper clip on the floor behind it? They used to be heavy, made of real metal and everything.
Your analogy about paper clips is very interesting Meghan. It just so happens that very subject came up this last Monday.

More and more paper clips are showing up in plastic.

Why? You may ask....

Have you also noticed the "going away" of wire coat hangers....and the increase of plastic coat hangers..?

And as we all know... the coat hangers hang out in the back dark corners of the closets and breed little tiny paper clips.....

Any body go near my 34 year old Dexter or Shar's 27 year old.... gets shot! And there is NO smiley face on that statement.

I touched those new ones and they feel like they would fall apart if you even got them in a room with an 8-ply mat.